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Gamaliel-- Hope For The Religious (Pharisees and Sadducees)
Pharisees and Sadducees - There is HOPE
The text which I will be using for this blog are taken from the Book of Acts,
Chapters, three, four and five.
The story begins when the Apostles, Peter and John
were on their way to temple for the hour of prayer,
when they came upon a lame man, who had this condition since birth.
(I had been focusing on the references to "lame" in God's Word,
due to an injury I had acquired in January, 2009 which had left me temporarily lame.)
As they were going to Temple to pray,
Peter and John were interrupted by a lame man, as he begged them for alms,
and they turned to him and said,
"Silver and gold have I none, but I give you what I have;
in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)
The man was immediately healed when he was taken by the hand and raised up by Peter.
The man was so elated, he was leaping and rejoicing and walked into the temple with them.
The people recognized him and they were amazed!
The people knew this was a miracle, and mobbed Peter and John in the portico called Solomon's.
This was an opportunity for Peter to share the Gospel with the people,
so he began telling them that it was not by their own power the man was healed,
but by the power of Jesus.
Peter basically rebuked them, but stated,
"I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers" (Acts 3:17)
and he admonished them to repent and accept Jesus.
Acts 3:4 states:
"But many of those who heard the Word believed;
and the number of the men came to about five thousand!"
While Peter and John were speaking and teaching the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees arrived, and they were greatly annoyed because they were proclaiming Jesus. Since it was late in the evening, and too late for a hearing, or trial,
they arrested them and put them in custody, for preaching.
The next day, there was a meeting of the rulers and elders and scribes in Jerusalem.
Included in this group, were Annas the High Priest, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander,
all of which were from the High-Priestly Family.
They questioned Peter and John. Peter and John told them what happened and that it was by the power of Jesus the lame man was healed. They rebuked the leaders who were questioning them, explaining that they had rejected the stone sent by God. They spoke with boldness.
The elders, scribes and priests did not know quite how to address this matter, since the lame man was standing next to them, obviously healed....evidence of the miracle.
They could not deny what had happened, but they did not want the news to spread any further among the people, so they dismissed Peter and John with a warning to never speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John did not really agree to these terms, but they were released and reported their experience to their friends.
Everyone was praying and praising God.
The place where they were gathered was shaken as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
As time went on, many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles, and they were again in the place of Solomon's Portico, preaching and teaching when the High Priest and the Sadducees again, arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison.
During the night, an Angel of the Lord opened the prison doors
and spoke to Peter and John, saying,
"Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life."
The apostles entered the temple at daybreak and started teaching about Jesus.
The High Priest and his 'peeps' called together a council meeting which included all the Senate of Israel, and they sent to the prison to have the apostles brought before them.
The officers returned and told them the news, saying,
"We found the prison securely locked and the sentries standing at the doors,
but when we opened it we found no one inside." (Acts 5:23).
The captain of the Temple and the chief Priests were perplexed,
when they also learned of the news that the apostles were not only gone from the prison,
but were standing in the temple teaching the people again!
They were doing the very thing they were warned to not do, even after being arrested twice!
They were brought before the Council and questioned, but the Apostles answered,
"We must obey God rather than men"...(Acts 5:29).
This enraged the authority figures and they wanted to kill the Apostles.
There was a Pharisee in the Council, named GAMALIEL. He was a teacher of the Law, and was held in honor by all the people. He was a very liberal RabTwoHe stood and ordered for the men to be put aside for awhile so he could speak to the leaders.
"Take care what you do with these men...In the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God,"
The leaders took the advice of GAMAMIEL, but they called them in and beat them
and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.
The Apostles left, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus' sake,
and went to the temple every day to teach and preach about Jesus.
The Holy Spirit gave the Christians boldness and confidence in the Power of God to protect them when accused and arrested by the Religious Machine.
The Religious did not possess this Power, nor did they understand it.
That which was not understood was misperceived to be a 'threat'.
The Religious had only their heritage, traditions, rituals, ceremonies, relics, rules or laws, which they deemed adequate in granting them power.
They were going through the outward motions of Religion, but without the Living Spirit of God, which they were witnessing in the Christians.
They feared the only Power they had was less than what was demonstrated in the lives and through the Christians.
At least this one man, GAMALIEL, who was a Council member and a teacher of the Law,
who was held in high honor and respected by all the people.
This man realized and recognized a possibility.
In the past, other groups seemed to be a challenge to the Religious machine,
and GAMALIEL knew they had no power against such a long established institution,
and that time proved this fact.
I wonder if he had so much confidence in the superiority of the "Religion",
that he expected, without any doubt, for the Christian movement to fail?
Did he suspect there just night be something to it?
Maybe God was empowering these followers of Jesus.
GAMALIEL knew the Law, the prophecies,
and maybe he was secretly hoping Jesus might be the long awaited Messiah?
No matter what was going on in his mind, to me,
he represents a ray of hope for the indoctrinated religious robots
...the blind followers of organized religion.
What he spoke were words of wisdom,
and God certainly used him in this situation to protect the Christians, Peter and John.
The Old Testament many times describes virtues that are to be cultivated and vices
that are to be eliminated in individuals, personally, and also collectively,
in interpersonal relationships. In the Law, in the Old Testament,
the Ten Commandments indicate that each person's rights are to be respected.
A person is not to take another's life, wife, property, or good name (Exodus 20:13-17).
All men are to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of race, nationality, religion, or social standing because all men are created in the Image of God (Genesis 1:26,27).
God loves all and He provides for both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
As a teacher of the Law and a member of the Council, GAMALIEL certainly knew the Old Testament Precepts, and practiced them in his dealings with Peter and John.
He had the utmost respect for the Law, and His responsibilities towards others.
Not all the religious people are hopelessly lost.
Deceived, yes, but I believe if one is truly seeking to know God, with a pure and open heart,
God will reveal Himself to them, and call them out from among the "living dead."
How could the Religious Pharisees and Sadducees include "Godliness", "Love," "Covenant," and "Community" to go along with their obsession for obedience to the Law without the element of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?
They may have possessed these ethics in/to a mechanical degree, but not in depth.
Their righteousness was man-made.
It was a self-righteousness.
But this story, about GAMALIEL, gives me hope.